Letter to the editor: 52 weeks of justice vigil . . . and counting

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To the editor:

Since the summer of 2020, the Des Moines Police Department has been violent against nonviolent demonstrators demanding justice. That’s why on July 5, faith leaders, including clergy and lay leaders, as well as community members began Year 2, Week 1, of a daily
weekday vigil held at noon outside of Des Moines Police headquarters.

The vigil began in response to police violence last summer and in support of the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement. Faith leaders want to hold the police accountable for the harm they have caused. Like in many cities around the country, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Queer and Transgender people in Des Moines are treated more harshly by
police than white cisgender people are.

One of the clergy who has participated since the beginning, Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, said, “We don’t expect things to change right away, but we will continue to show up and keep the pressure for as long as necessary. It is a communal effort.”

As the persistent widow seeking justice from an unjust judge in Christian scripture (Luke
18:1-8), faith leaders and community members will continue to seek and work for justice until it comes.

These 52 weeks have been a real community-building activity. Participants have found and solidified friendships. We have experienced that we can do so much more when we work together.

For the second year, the vigil will continue gathering at noon outside DMPD headquarters and will have intentional conversations around different topics each week, between 12:15 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. The topics will be about how policing impacts Black, Brown, Indigenous, Queer and Transgender people.

During the week of July 5, the gathering will discuss the role of police violence in the history of LGBTQ2SIA+ Pride. Specific congregations will be responsible for facilitating the
conversation each day and Tuesdays will be bilingual (Spanish and English). As always, anyone willing to be challenged and engaged in a respectful conversation is welcome to participate.

We extend an invitation to people of faith and to people of no faith who care about human beings to join us as we keep building community, showing up in solidarity, denouncing injustices and working toward a better, more just and more inclusive Des Moines.

Frank Cordaro
Des Moines

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